American logging truck

Impact of COVID-19 on America's Forest Supply Chain

Sept. 2, 2020 - The global forest products industry has been making headlines since the COVID-19 pandemic struck at the beginning of 2020. First, the pulp & paper sector was the talk of the town during the widespread run on toilet paper that took place from March - June, and the lumber sector has been front-page news in recent weeks as prices for finished lumber have set new records by huge margins.

But the myriad impacts related to the COVID-induced shutdown of the American economy continue to unfold, as they will for months to come. While the attention is beneficial in helping to educate the public and illustrate the complexities of the forest supply chain, those of us close to the industry have wondered about the degree to which COVID-19 “lockdowns” have impacted forest industry production and economic activity.

Forest2Market was recently commissioned by the American Loggers Council (ALC) to identify just how significant the impacts have been to America’s forest products supply chain.

Forest2Market research shows that wood raw material consumption between January-July 2020 was 6.7% lower than the same period in 2019 – dropping by 21.4 million tons of material. This resulted in a 13% reduction ($1.83 billion) in value of the delivered wood. That $1.83 billion dollar loss in value has had a significant impact throughout the forest supply chain, from timberland owners to loggers and truckers.

wood raw material consumption

Unfortunately, as the ALC notes, both Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have provided funding for numerous agricultural categories, but they have not yet classified timber in the category that qualifies for COVID-19 assistance. Timber and forests are described as agricultural commodities along with fruits, vegetables, and other common agricultural goods (7 U.S.C Section 1518).

To help highlight the impacts of COVID-19 on the US logging and wood products supply chain, the ALC created as an outlet that features testimonial stories and videos directly from those who have experienced difficult circumstances.

In Washington, bipartisan Logger Relief bills have been introduced in the Senate (S.4233) by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), and in the House (H.R. 7690) by Representative Jared Golden (D-ME) and Representative David Rouzer (R-NC). Specifically, the bills would direct the USDA to make economic relief payments to logging and log trucking businesses who experienced losses of greater than 10% in the first two quarters of 2020 (compared to 2019). Members of Congress from 13 states have co-sponsored the Logger Relief Act.

SOURCE: Forest2Market


Electric Truck - Port of LA

California Air Resources Board Adopts Rule Requiring Truck Manufacturers to Transition from Diesel to Electric Zero-Emission Trucks and Vans

June 29, 2020 (Press Release)  - [On June 25], the California Air Resources Board adopted a first-in-the-world rule requiring truck manufacturers to transition from diesel trucks and vans to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024. By 2045, every new truck sold in California will be zero-emission.

This bold and timely move sets a clean-truck standard for the nation and the world, and marks the Newsom administration’s most important air pollution regulation to date. It zeroes in on air pollution in the state’s most disadvantaged and polluted communities. 

"California is an innovation juggernaut that is going electric. We are showing the world that we can move goods, grow our economy and finally dump dirty diesel," said Jared Blumenfeld, California’s Secretary for Environmental Protection.

Many California neighborhoods, especially Black and Brown, low-income and vulnerable communities, live, work, play and attend schools adjacent to the ports, railyards, distribution centers, and freight corridors and experience the heaviest truck traffic. This new rule directly addresses disproportionate risks and health and pollution burdens affecting these communities and puts California on the path for an all zero-emission short-haul drayage fleet in ports and railyards by 2035, and zero-emission “last-mile” delivery trucks and vans by 2040.

“For decades, while the automobile has grown cleaner and more efficient, the other half of our transportation system has barely moved the needle on clean air,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Diesel vehicles are the workhorses of the economy, and we need them to be part of the solution to persistent pockets of dirty air in some of our most disadvantaged communities. Now is the time – the technology is here and so is the need for investment.”

Trucks are the largest single source of air pollution from vehicles, responsible for 70 percent of the smog-causing pollution and 80 percent of carcinogenic diesel soot even though they number only 2 million among the 30 million registered vehicles in the state. 

This requirement to shift to zero-emission trucks, along with the ongoing shift to electric cars, will help California meet its climate goals and federal air quality standards, especially in the Los Angeles region and the San Joaquin Valley – areas that suffer the highest levels of air pollution in the nation. Statewide, the Advanced Clean Truck regulation will lower related premature deaths by 1,000.

The rule drives technology and investment, phasing in available heavy-duty zero-emission technology starting in 2024 with full transformation over the next two decades. This sends a clear signal to manufacturers, fleet owners and utilities that the time to invest in zero-emission trucks – and the economy – is now. It builds on California’s leadership as a manufacturer of zero-emission transportation.

In the coming months, CARB will also consider two complementary regulations to support today’s action. The first sets a stringent new limit on NOx (oxides of nitrogen), one of the major precursors of smog. This will require that new trucks that still use fossil fuels include the most effective exhaust control technology during the transition to electric trucks. There is also a proposed requirement for larger fleets in the state to transition to electric trucks year over year.

Today’s action was preceded by multiple CARB regulations to transition to zero-emission passenger cars, cleaner diesel fuel and improved technologies to limit diesel emissions for all trucks and buses. Over the past few years, CARB has also set rules to electrify buses used by transit agencies and shuttles at the state’s largest airports by 2030.

SOURCE: California Air Resources Board


Farm, Forest Product Exporters Applaud Stay of AB 5 Truck Bill in California

Agriculture Transportation Coalition says California trucking regulation would “wreak havoc” on exporters of farm and forest products that depend on California ports.

By Chris Dupin for American Shipper

Jan. 4, 2020 - The Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) cheered the decision by a federal judge to stay the AB 5 law that would make it more difficult for truckers to work as independent owner-operators.

In a case brought by the California Trucking Association (CTA), Judge Roger T. Benitez of the U.S. Southern District Court ordered the state not to enforce AB 5 against any motor carrier in California, pending a final resolution of the lawsuit brought by the CTA.

Had the law gone into effect as scheduled on Jan. 1, it “would have begun to wreak havoc on trucking in California and on the hundreds of thousands employed in U.S. agriculture/forest products exports, directly and indirectly, who depend on California’s export gateways to world markets,” said a statement from Peter Friedmann, the executive director of the AgTC, one of the largest groups representing shippers of farm and forest products.

“Agriculture/forest products are the nation’s largest volume export. Our exporters have struggled to stay competitive during these trade wars, which thankfully appear to be ebbing. But competition is intense and growing. To be competitive in the Asia-Pacific and global marketplaces, our exporters require transport and ports to be affordable and efficient,” he wrote.

Friedmann said that California ports, through which many agriculture products flow, are losing market share and that AB 5 would have increased trucking costs and accelerated that trend, undermining access to foreign markets.

AgTC also said it was concerned that legislatures in New York and New Jersey are considering a similar limitation on independent contracting, which could affect its members’ exports through the Port of New York/New Jersey.

“Federal law must continue to control interstate commerce, and should preempt individual state efforts to dramatically change our trucking laws, causing severe damage to our nation’s export competitiveness,” Friedmann added.

SOURCE: American Shipper

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